Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has urged Singapore businesses to go for quality growth to tackle the challenge of growing manpower constraints.
Speaking at the Deloitte’s Global Tax Conference on Wednesday, he said it is not viable for Singapore to keep increasing manpower at the same rate as in recent years.
Mr Shanmugam said: “The individual perspective assumes you can keep growing with more and more input of labour, without any constraints on land.
“We have to take the hard position and say that we accept that we have to cut back on the factor of input of labour, because it’s not sustainable to keep growing at this rate. We have to try and go for quality growth.
“That’s a nice catch phrase but for a lot of people, without additional labour, quality growth would not be possible. But these are the trade-offs we have had to make.”
He also addressed questions about Singapore being seen as a ‘tax haven’, especially for tax evasion.
Mr Shanmugam said Singapore has a fundamentally clean system, with robust safety mechanisms to protect against money laundering.
Banks are also required to get to know clients and their sources of funds.
Mr Shanmugam also expressed his bullish outlook on regional integration efforts through the ASEAN Economic Community.
He said that significant diversity within the grouping may pose challenges in the near-to-medium term.
However, he believes the economic potential for integration is substantial.
Mr Shanmugam said: “600 million people in a geographically defined area, sitting between three large economies — India, China and Japan — second largest, third largest, and India among the top 10 economies in the world.
“So you actually have four major blocs — India, ASEAN, China, Japan — huge potential. And if you integrate Australia, which is another G20 country, also $2 trillion, we’re talking about very substantial synergies, which is why ideas like the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) make a lot of sense.”
Source : Channel News Asia | April 9, 2014